Chris Klieman was swift in giving an example of what concerned him the most about Kansas State’s 24-20 loss to West Virginia at Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Kansas State had seven penalties for 72 yards, not an egregious stat, but two of the flags resulted in West Virginia touchdowns.

The Wildcats struggled to do just about everything during several segments in a game where they were a two-touchdown favorite, but Klieman brought up a penalty in the first quarter.

Mountaineer quarterback Jarret Doege, who made his first start of the season against the Wildcats, connected with George Campbell for a 15-yard touchdown. A few plays before the score, West Virginia kicker missed a 41-yard field goal after a defensive stronghold from Kansas State came up big.

But a personal foul on Wildcat defensive tackle Trey Dishon resuscitated the Mountaineers drive.

“We give them an extra possession on a missed field goal where we are off the field,” Klieman said. “They end up scoring on a play. Then we are down in the red zone — and we have been really good at getting touchdowns — but we end up kicking a field goal rather than getting in the end zone. That’s been where we’ve had success. We’ve limited people to field goals and we’ve scored the touchdowns. Lo and behold, this week it kind of flips on us.”

Again, the game isn’t all about flags, and Kansas State still struggled in other areas Saturday. The team is built on establishing a run presence and struggled to do so. Skylar Thompson threw a pair of interceptions, including one on the Wildcats’ final offensive drive.

But the moments where the yellow flags landed served as accurate microcosms of the Wildcats’ struggles.

The Kansas State defense put solid pressure on Doege for most of the game. He was sacked twice and knocked down six other times. The West Virginia rushing attack didn’t have much success either, being held to 3 yards per attempt and a total of 85 yards on the ground.

But penalties took away stops.

“It hurts,” Wildcat defensive lineman Jordan Mittie said. “That was definitely, early on, a lack of focus. Especially on third down when we are giving them a first down. It’s tough to manage.”

Defensive back Denzel Goolsby was honest talking about a penalty of his own – he was called for pass interference in the fourth quarter when Walter Neil Jr. had solid coverage on Mountaineer receiver Sam James — that drive also resulted in a West Virginia touchdown after a blown coverage just a few plays later..

“I saw they were running the guy, trying to get me to bite down on it, so I tried to get depth because I knew they were going to try and hit the post behind me,” Goolsby said after the game. “I tried to go help out Walt at corner there, but he was right there in great coverage. I should’ve just turned and got my head around. It’s a bang-bang play and I wasn’t able to get my head back soon enough.”

The penalty and ensuing touchdown spoiled what was an otherwise solid evening for Goolsby. He finished with four tackles, including three solo takedowns. The Kansas State defense recovered well, too, shutting down the Mountaineers’ final two offensive drives and giving the Wildcats’ offense a chance.

Goolsby said he never saw the ball on the interference call, and that some of the natural instinct defensive backs have hurt him there.

“It is tough to have a couple drives get extended by penalties, because it means it shouldn’t have happened at all,” Goolsby said. “I think we had a good game plan, but the penalties can hurt and we just have to focus up, myself included, and make sure we don’t do those things to hurt ourselves and spoil our stops.”

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